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Port Lympne reserve animals could suffer if Affinity Water cut goes ahead

By Matt Leclere

A water firm planning to shut-off taps to carry out essential repairs says it can provide an alternative supply to a Kent animal park fearful of its effects.

Bosses at Port Lympne Reserve say they were told of the water cut at just four days notice, claiming it could cause rare and endangered animals to suffer.

The Hythe park's managing director, Bob O’Connor, says they have had no time to prepare for what have been described by Affinity Water as “essential repairs” to a trunk main.

Port Lympne, near Hythe

Port Lympne, near Hythe

He also says the overnight shut-off could have a “devastating knock-on effect” on the park.

But Affinity Water says an alternative water supply can be provided to the park if required.

Mr O'Connor said: “We were informed in writing of a planned water cut to Port Lympne, on Friday 27th May. 

“As soon as we received the letter we tried to contact Affinity Water to get clarification on the planned water cut, but despite calling them every day, we have been unable to get a satisfactory answer. 

“This lack of notice by Affinity Water has left us no time to prepare or arrange temporary water supplies. 

“This means that the rare and endangered animals in our care could suffer.”

Port Lympne Reserve is home to 700 rare and endangered animals, across 88 species.  

With the May half-term break set to start tomorrow, Mr O’Connor says the shut-off could also affect an estimated 2,000 visitors.  

He said: “It’s an incredibly busy time for us.

Port Lympne managing director Bob O'Connor

Port Lympne managing director Bob O'Connor

“The water cut will affect our expected 2,000 visitors, our overnight guests and our staff, it’s a potential disaster.

“As a charity, we rely on visitor monies to support our conservation efforts, not only at our wild animal parks, but also across the globe. 

“This water cut could have a devastating, knock-on effect for us."

An Affinity Water spokesman said: “The works scheduled for Tuesday, May 31, are essential repairs to a leaking 18-inch trunk main. 
 
"This will be a complex repair, which is 2.5 metres underground and we have been planning this work to minimise impact to our customers by carrying out the repair overnight and during half-term week.
 
"We are hoping that most customers will not be affected by this repair, though there is a chance that this work may extend to the next day.
 
"We wrote to our customers to inform them of this we work and we are sorry that Port Lyme Reserve experienced difficulty in contacting us about it.
 
"We are trying to contact the reserve to arrange an alternative water supply for them, should this be required"
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